Before diagnosis, I was already aware of changes in my brain. I no longer felt up to making "big" decisions (not that I was ever up to that!). I would shy away from them, put them off and hope that things would all sort themselves out somehow.
I could not be 100% sure of what I recalled any more. I couldn't vouch that such-and-such happened in a certain order, or that someone actually said a certain thing on the phone. Although my ability to recall numbers remains.
I felt like putting off lots of things, and lacked motivation. I had to make myself do even routine things! Some of you might say that nothing has changed, but I have been known in the past for being able to focus on getting something done and following through. This appeared no longer to be the case.
There is a name for my slackness. It's known as "Parkinson's apathy." In my research on the net, I found the following list of areas of PD-induced cognitive impairment:
I think also in there is a loss of ability to prioritize tasks, i.e. what to do in order of importance. Sometimes I leave the important task until after I have finished something insignificant. There does seem to be a need to complete something before starting something else though. If two things need to happen at once, I might go into "gridlock" and achieve neither.
OK, so what can I do to function better and get on with my life?
- Exercise 30 mins/day
- Eat veges, fruit, fish, not saturated fat
- Avoid high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, stop smoking (I don't smoke, but I include it for others who do)
- Lose weight
- Social interactions (club, volunteer, family, friends)
- New learning (new hobby, course)
- Puzzles (jigsaws, crosswords, sudoku, scrabble, word games)
- Play new musical instrument, learn new language (makes new pathways in the brain)
Things that help me get things done
Executive functions, gridlock
- break big decisions down into smaller steps, or at least the first few steps
Learning and remembering information
- write down list of tasks, choose two which have higher priority, then pick one of those two
- push myself to work on it till it is completed (reward myself if necessary)
- write down info from phone calls, or indeed anything that needs to be memorized (such as an address or name) on a piece of scratch paper or in a diary
- writing things down helps me to remember them later on
Other relevant websites
Cognitive Impairment article - detailed explanation of cognitive changes in PwP and ways to deal with them
Cognition and PD by Alexander I. Tröster, Ph.D., Mar 22, 2011, 1:01:56 - webinar on cognitive changes in PwP
Yourbrainmatters.org.au - has more info on how to keep your brain healthy and help to prevent dementia